I’ll never be like her. Oh, wait…

“You’re JUST like your mother.”

Don’t you feel like you’ve heard that line on TV or in movies a lot? It’s usually meant as a rolling-eyes insult of some kind, from a husband to a wife- and prompts steam to come out of the wife’s ears. The mother-daughter relationship is tricky. I’d bet that most women grow up thinking, “I’ll never be like her.” And then, one day, they’ll say or do something and stop short, realizing the inevitable has happened.

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My mom grew up with two older brothers, which explains why she’s tough as nails. I never questioned the fact that if someone crossed me, she’d hunt them down– she told me as much. It took a long time and some adult years of my own under my belt to realize she’s really just a big softie (I’m onto you, Mom) with a fierce love for her kids.  When we’re together, our family moves as a pack- a somewhat overwhelming freight train of games and laughter and food and drink and love. And, whether we realize it or not, my mom is responsible for it all. She’s absolutely the GLUE.

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I always say I take after my Dad. It’s true- we’re alike in a lot of ways. But the truth is, I’m a lot like my mother, too. Last year, this is what I said on Mother’s Day: “We haven’t always gotten along. We had the typical torturous mother-daughter love/hate period in my early teens. I’m becoming more like her as I get older. If you told me that at 15, I would have thrown something at you, but I know now that I’ll be lucky to stay that course.” We were never mother-daughter buddies. She wasn’t my best friend- she was my MOM. I thought she was way too strict. EVERYTHING had to be a life lesson. She was always involved, whether it was as my girl scouts co-leader or driving a load of giggling girls to cheerleading camp. As an adult, I realize how lucky I was to have a loving, present mom.

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There are so many parts of me that come from my mom, like my love for homey-camping and secret desire to have a farm full of animals (Dad is laughing). Here are a few things I’ve learned from my mom over the years.

Think of others before yourself. My mom is the ultimate hostess, the self-sacrificing mother, the endlessly supportive wife. She taught me through her actions that empathy for others is invaluable- to them, but also to ourselves.

Family is the most important thing. We are a family of traditions and memories and nostalgia. It’s torturous for my mom that her kids don’t live next door. Or in her guest room. And I’m not kidding: don’t hurt me. She’ll find you.

Fresh flowers are necessary. Whether it’s on her countertop at home or on her picnic table at a campsite, my mom is big on fresh cut flowers. Now I find myself always having colorful blooms in my own home, and the first thing I do at a new campsite is fill a tiny vase with wildflowers. Flowers feel like HOME to me.

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Bring a camera with you. Everywhere. I take a lot of pictures. (Captain Obvious strikes again.) I keep a point-and-shoot camera in my purse. I’m the one people roll their eyes at when the camera comes out- and then thank later for documenting the event. My mom ALWAYS has a camera in my face- even before coffee– and because of that, we’ll have lots of memories to enjoy in years to come.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be happy. We aren’t the Brady Bunch. Things break. Wine gets spilled. Rolls get burned on holidays. Dads back into classic Porsches in the driveway with a dualie truck. Wedding rings end up in the concrete driveway while it’s being poured. We get frustrated with each other, but we never stop loving each other. And we have a lot of really good stories.

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Wherever you are, make friends. My mom will literally walk up and start talking to anyone. In the time it might take me to go to the restroom, she’ll be talking to the couple at the next table about deer in her garden or something. More often than not, her kindness will result in a recommendation on what to order or the discovery of a mutual friend or an offer of season tickets to a Broncos game. Her confidence is inspiring, and the world is way too small not to be friendly.

Get dirty. Be silly. The best times are the ones when you have dirt on your face or smell like fish or make a fool of yourself playing charades after one glass of wine too many. Life should be FUN, which generally means the opposite of tidy.

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I think the best thing about my mom is that in my 38 years of life, she’s never made me feel anything but capable, intelligent, and cherished. She’s absolutely my biggest cheerleader. I know I’m a bit of a mess, but to my mom, that mess is perfect. As John and I enter what we hope will be the parenthood part of our lives, I can already tell you what kind of mom I’ll be. I’ll be too strict. I’ll try hard to use experiences to teach my kids what kind of people to be. I’ll be involved in every activity, whatever they are. And if my kids don’t like it, I’ll just blame it all on Grandma

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One thing I know is that my kids will never, ever question their worth. They will know that they are loved.

In that way, I will be proud to be JUST like my mother. 

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mama, and all of the Mamas out there!

19 replies »

  1. Aw, Amber, this made me tear up. Your love for her is so clear in your writing. The photos are fantastic too — the one of you and her in your wok bathtub = adorable. I think taking a *lot* of pictures is actually really important. Otherwise, moments (and years!) can slip by.

  2. Who can have a better and more perfect daughter than you, Amber! What an absolute blessing you are….I love you more than I can say. xoxoxomom

  3. Your mom is so cute. I love seeing old pictures of moms and daughters, and I love what you said about your mom not being your best friend, but your MOM. I can totally relate and I think that because my mom knew it was more important to be my mom than my friend, we’re much better friends now. How lucky we are to have such great moms 🙂

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